On Saturday, January 21, Metropolitan Hilarion began his archpastoral visit to the Diocese of Great Britain. His Eminence was met at London’s Gatwick Airport by the Diocese’s senior cleric, Archpriest Peter Baulk, and chancellor, Archpriest Paul Elliott, and minor clergy, who traveled with him to Merseyside, where the Metropolitan was interviewed by the BBC on arrival at Lime Street Station in Liverpool.
On Sunday, January 22, at a joyful Hierarchal Liturgy at St. Elisabeth the New-Martyr Church in Wallasey, trustee Aidan Draper welcomed Metropolitan Hilarion with the traditional bread and salt. He was also welcomed by Fr. Paul and a congregation of well over 70 people. His Eminence ordained Hierodeacon Mark (Underwood) to the priesthood to serve the parishes in Cardiff and Cheltenham. He tonsured Reader Gildas Meal for the Western Rite Mission in the U.K., and ordained Reader Chad Newman to the subdiaconate for St. Elisabeth’s Church.
At the Little Entrance, the Metropolitan awarded Hieromonk Michael (Wood; chaplain at Saint Bride Stavropegial Hermitage in Scotland) the right to wear the gold pectoral cross in recognition of his 20 years of service as a priest, and Priest Thomas Cook (parish cleric) was awarded the nabedrennik for his faithful service. His Eminence also thanked Matushka Elizabeth Elliott for her care of the choir and all of her hard work in the parish. Fr. Paul presented the archpastor an icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas to travel with him on his visits to the UK and Ireland. After a festal meal in the church, the Metropolitan met with parishioners in Fr. Paul’s house.
On Monday, January 23, after tonsuring Nun Margaret (Smythe), the First Hierarch traveled on Mettingham; he stopped en route at the Shrine of St. Winefride in Holywell, North Wales, where he drank from the waters and poured some over his head. He took several bottles of St. Winefride’s water to distribute to the parishes and churches of East Anglia. In Mettingham, the Metropolitan and Deacon Andrew Bond joined parishioners for prayers in Our Lady "Joy of All Who Sorrow" Church.
On Tuesday morning, January 24, at the hierarchal Divine Liturgy in Joy of All Who Sorrow Church, Metropolitan Hilarion ordained Reader Mark Tattum-Smith to the subdiaconate for the parish during the Sixth Hour. At the Little Entrance, he awarded the nabedrennik to Priest Antony Bardsley (parish cleric) for his service to the church, and gave Fr. Andrew Bond (parish cleric) the double orarion. After a beautiful Liturgy, His Eminence served a Litiya for the departed at the graves of Mary Bond and Priest Elias and Matushka Barbara Jones just near the church. After a festal luncheon and a lovely time with the parishioners, Metropolitan Hilarion was driven to Norwich by Fr. Andrew to visit the parish of St. Alexander Nevsky.
On Wednesday, January 25, Metropolitan Hilarion visited Colchester and Clacton-on-Sea; on Thursday, January 26, he celebrated Hierarchal Liturgy at St. John of Shanghai Church in Colchester and traveled to the London Cathedral, where he remained on Friday. God willing, His Eminence will celebrate Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning at the cathedral, followed by a meeting with the local clergy. The remainder of his schedule is as follows:
- Saturday, January 28: Hierarchal Vigil at London Cathedral.
- Sunday, January 29: Hierarchal Liturgy, luncheon, and parish annual general meeting at the London Cathedral.
- Monday, January 30: London Cathedral. Lunch at Ennismore Gardens with Archbishop Elisey (Ganaba) of Sourozh.
- Tuesday, January 31: Hierarchal Liturgy at the London Cathedral and return to New York City.
God willing, more detailed information on the second half of Metropolitan Hilarion’s visit to the Diocese of Great Britain will be published soon.
Background: The Diocese of Great Britain & Ireland (ROCOR)
There has been a Russian Church in London for about 300 years. After the Russian Revolution, the Imperial Embassy Chapel was closed and a new home was sought for the parish. It became a diocese in 1929 when Archimandrite Nicholas (Karpov) was consecrated as Bishop of London and took up residence in the UK. In 1932, he reposed in the Lord whilst visiting the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (Karlovtsy Synod) in the Kingdom of Serbia. The next bishop to reside in London and have oversight of the parishes in the United Kingdom was the ever-memorable Archbishop Nikodem (Nagaieff), who was bishop in London from 1954 until his death in 1976, at the age of 93. Initially, Bishop Nikodem was a suffragan (vicar) bishop under the omophorion of Archbishop John (Maximovitch; glorified in 1994 as St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco) who, from 1953 to 1962, was Archbishop of Brussels & Western Europe. The next bishop to reside in London was Bishop Constantine (Essensky) of Richmond of blessed memory, who retired in 1986. In the same year, Archbishop Mark (Arndt) was appointed as ruling hierarch for London & Great Britain. The cathedral parish moved to its present location in Chiswick, West London, in 1990, having previously been at Emperor’s Gate, London SW7. For a more detailed history, see Embassy, Emigrants, and Englishmen by Protodeacon Christopher Birchall, published by Holy Trinity Press, Jordanville in 2014. Archbishop Mark retired as ruling bishop of the British Diocese on December 8, 2016 at the Synod meeting in New York City. The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion, is now the current ruling bishop.